Heart murmurs in children

Heart murmurs in children can worry parents; however, they are more frequent than we can think. Many children have a heart murmur at some point. Most of them should not be a cause for concern and do not affect the child's health at all.

The human heartbeat is usually stable and is usually described as follows: "lup-dub", "lub-dub". However, in some people the blood makes an additional sound when it goes through the heart. This sound is what is known as heart murmur.

What happens in a heart murmur?

Each heartbeat, as we have seen, consists of two different sounds, "lup-dub":

  • The first sound is produced when the valves that control the passage of blood from the upper cavities – atria – to the lower ones – ventricles are closed.
  • The second sound is produced when the valves that control the blood flow to the rest of the body close.

A heart murmur is an extra sound that is heard apart from the “lub-dub”. Sometimes, those sounds are only the result of normal blood flow through a normal heart. Others, a murmur can be a sign of a heart problem.

Harmless heart murmurs in children

In preschool and school-age children, heart murmurs are almost never a concern; the little ones do not need special attention and the sound eventually disappears. These children have heart murmurs known as functional or harmless.

If an infant has a murmur, he will be discovered between the ages of one and five, by having a routine exam. Usually, The pediatrician may indicate if a murmur is harmless only by hearing its sound. If necessary, you will consult a pediatric cardiologist to be sure.

On rare occasions a pediatrician will hear a heart murmur that sounds abnormal enough to indicate that something could be wrong with the heart.

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Congenital heart abnormalities

Some heart murmurs in children may indicate that there is a problem in this organ. In these cases, doctors will send the child to a consultation with a pediatric cardiologist. This specialist will tell you if you have to undergo some tests, such as:

  • Chest or chest x-ray: It is an image of the heart and surrounding organs.
  • Electrocardiogram or ECG: It is a record of the electrical activity of the heart.
  • Echocardiogram: It consists of an image of the heart that is obtained from the use of sound waves.

Notably Only 1 in 100 babies is born with a structural heart problem or a congenital heart defect. These children may have symptoms of the anomaly during the first days of life, or not do so until later, in childhood.

Some of the symptoms that may appear in infants are:

On the other hand, teenagers may develop other symptoms, such as:

  • Fatigue.
  • Problems to carry out physical activities.
  • Chest pain.

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Most frequent heart problems

There are several anomalies that the heart can present and, as a consequence, cause a murmur to appear. Some of these alterations are:

  • Abnormalities in the cardiac septum: affect the septum or septum that separates the atria from the ventricles. When this septum has a hole, blood can flow through it into other cardiac cavities and cause a murmur. Small holes usually close over time.
  • Valve anomalies: Sometimes, the heart valves are very narrow, small, thick or have some other type of abnormality that does not allow blood to flow properly. This can cause the blood to regurgitate and cause a heart murmur.
  • Heart muscle problems or cardiomyopathies: In this situation, the heart muscle may be too thick or too weak. For this reason, it loses the ability to pump blood to the rest of the body efficiently and triggers a heart murmur.

In short, we could say that the presence of heart murmurs in children is not a serious problem; Parents should not lose their cool when knowing their existence.

But nevertheless, It is convenient to track your evolution over timeor, especially if symptoms appear that could be linked to this problem.